A city such as Coimbatore, where already more than a million people live within the Corporation limits, needs a medium capacity metro rail system that can transport around 40,000 passengers per hour per direction in peak hours, according to E. Sreedharan, principal adviser to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
After conducting a half-day study across the city, he suggested that two lines can be taken up with the first one connecting R.S. Puram to the Coimbatore Airport via Avanashi Road, which housed a large number of educational institutions.
The second line could connect Singanallur with Mettupalayam through the business district of Town Hall and nearby areas, he pointed out while speaking on ‘Coimbatore Area Rapid Transport’ organised here on Friday by Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC).
Giving the capital intensive and time intensive nature of the project, with the Delhi Metro costing Rs. 10,500 crore for the first phase of 65 km, he advocated the immediate commencement of planning work. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had prepared the detailed project reports for several metro rail projects in the country.
The Central Government usually contributed 20 per cent of the project cost through grant or equity stake with the State bearing an equal amount.
The rest was covered through loans or were raised from the market. However, with the Central clearance likely to take a couple of years, the State Government should go ahead with a provision for Centre to join at a later stage. The Chennai Metro was taken up under this model, he added.
Mr. Sreedharan said that Coimbatore with its several large arterial roads connecting the business district was favourably positioned for a metro rail system. While the Tiruchi, Avinashi and Mettupalayam Roads already had the width to accommodate the pillars of an elevated metro rail, he said that the Sathyamangalam Road might require some widening.
He recommended the use of elevated lines which, at Rs. 200 crore per km, compared favourably with the underground system that needed Rs. 500 crore.
For the metro rail to be self-sustaining and be free of subsidisation and yet have charges that are affordable, it must generate non-traffic revenue through commercial exploitation.
Member of Parliament from Coimbatore P.R. Natarajan, RAAC president C.R. Swaminathan, and secretary R. Raveendran, spoke.